We need to practice our listening skills, for only then will we learn what our audience wants.

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How to sell more by listening

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Ways to sell yourself - and your products - by listening more than talking

We need to practice our listening skills, for only then will we learn what our audience wants. All of us (well, most of us!) have two ears and one mouth. But do we use them in that proportion? Very seldom.

Often, when we are eager to put ourselves, our company or our products over in a good light, we tend to let our mouth do most of the work. It seems the 'easy' thing to do. And, like many 'easy' solutions, it's not the best one. So try all of the following the next time that you want to impress someone:

  • Ask questions - especially about the other person and his/her business. And listen a lot to what they have to say.
  • Ask simple questions. Let the other person have time to concentrate on their answer, instead of trying to work out what your question is.
  • Ask only one question at a time. If you ask a string of questions, the chances are that the other person will only answer either the easiest question, or the last question.
  • Concentrate on their reply. It's so easy to start thinking of the next question you are going to ask. And when we do this, we fail to remember (or sometimes even hear) the answer. If you don't concentrate, it will show. The other person will quickly realise that you are not really interested in their answer.
  • Ask again. If you don't understand all or some of the answer, don't be afraid to ask for more explanation. It won't show that you are a dummy. It will show that (a) you have been listening and (b) that you are really interested in their answer.

So remember, when talking with someone, listen carefully, listen actively - and cut down the amount of talking that you do. You will be amazed at the results!

Laureen Stokes (lstokes@dowco.com) has added the following valuable advice:

Eye contact is one of the most important parts of any conversation. There is nothing worse than trying to talk to someone who is not looking at you - it says that you are not interested in anything that they are saying. Killer eye contact shows that they are important and what they are saying is interesting. People are much more likely to elaborate, and give more information if you make good eye contact.

  • If you are taking notes, make a point of looking up every few seconds, to let them know you are still with them.
  • If you are asking a question, make sure you are looking at them as you speak.
  • Make a point of looking at the person frequently. If you are showing them a graph or figure, at least once for every point you are making.

Eye contact also gives you the opportunity to "read" the other person. If they start to look away from you, its time to move on to another subject, or wrap up the conversation entirely. If they look puzzled, you can stop and explain yourself more clearly

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